Elks Fall to Eustace Bulldogs, 35-10

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

 ELKHART – The Elkhart Elks welcomed the Eustace Bulldogs to town for a homecoming tilt on Friday night, Oct 20. and when Landry Mays scored on a one-yard TD plunge to open the fourth quarter, it looked like the Elks might have a homecoming to remember.

The Mays touchdown, coupled with Jacob McSwane’s extra point cut the Eustace lead to 19-10, with nearly the entire fourth quarter left to play. Alas, it was not meant to be as the Bulldogs scored two late touchdowns and added a safety to pull away from the Elks and capture a hard-fought 35-10 victory.

Following the Homecoming festivities which saw Johnathan Simmons crowned as King and Allie Hays crowned as Queen, the business of football took center stage.

The Bulldogs won the opening toss and deferred to the second half. That meant the Elks would open the game with the ball. It didn’t take long for the Elks to figure out Eustace came to play, as the Bulldogs forced the Elks into a three and out possession.

After the Elk punt, the Bulldogs set up shop at their own 35. Eustace ripped off three runs of 10 + yards to open their drive but a sack, an incompletion and another sack by the Elkhart defense forced the Bulldogs to kick.

A second three and out in the quarter gave the ball back to Eustace and this time the Bulldogs took advantage. Clifton Johnson and Alejandro Sanchez did the dirty work for the Bulldogs as they chewed up yardage on the ground and moved into the Elks’ red zone.

From there, Sanchez found WR Cory Strawn on a 17-yard fade route for the game’s first score. The extra point was no good, but at the 1:53 mark of the first quarter, Eustace led 6-0.

A turnover on Elkhart’s next possession gave the Bulldogs excellent field position on the Elks’ side of the field. The Elkhart defense stiffened, however, and forced a turnover on downs to regain possession of the ball at their own 29 yard line.

A bad snap on the Elks first play from scrimmage after the turnover put Elkhart in a hole at their nine yard line from which they were unable to recover.

Another three and out gave the ball back to Eustace at the Elkhart 40 and four plays later, Sanchez connected with Strawn for his second TD of the night. The two-point conversion attempt was no good, but with 6:05 remaining in the half, the Bulldogs had widened their lead to 12-0.

Following a fourth, three and out of the first half, Eustace regained possession of the ball at their own 29 yard line. Strawn ripped a 60-yard run off of a jet sweep and then Johnson finished the job from 11 yards out as he bulled his way into the end zone. The extra point from Deran Marcus was good and with 3:23 remaining in the first half, Eustace had pushed their lead out to 19-0.

The Elkhart offense – which had struggled the last few weeks – finally found some rhythm from the ground game before the half ended. Behind the running of John Ashford and Landry Mays, the Elks moved smartly down the field as they worked the clock to perfection.

After a 10-yard scamper from Ashford brought the ball to the Eustace 10, the Elks’ offense stalled. McSwane was called on to attempt a 38-yard field goal and the senior place kicker nailed it to cut into the Bulldog lead and close out the first half point production with Eustace ahead by a score of 19-3.

The score remained that way until the first play of the fourth quarter when Mays burst up the middle on a one yard scoring plunge. McSwane’s PT was good and just like that the Elks were back in the game and only trailed by a score of 19-10, with nearly the entire fourth quarter left to play.

It was not meant to be, however, as the Elks defense gave up Bulldog TDs on their next two possessions. Johnson scored from three yards out to push the lead out to 26-10, following the XP.

After Elkhart turned the ball over on downs, the Bulldogs used a time consuming drive to milk the clock and worked it all the way down to 2:46 left in the game, when Sanchez broke free on a 14-yard scoring run. The PAT was good and brought the score to 33-10.

The Elks fought until the bitter end but a when Mays was sacked in the end zone for a safety, it put the proverbial final nail in the coffin and closed out the scoring with the Bulldogs picking up the road win by a final of 35-10.

The loss puts the Elks playoff chances in serious jeopardy. With three games remaining in the regular season, the Elks will more than likely have to win out to guarantee a spot in the post-season.

Elkhart hits the road next week as they travel to Whitney to tangle with the Wildcats. Both teams will come into the game with 1-3 district records. The winner will still be alive for a possible playoff slot, while the loser of the contest will more than likely be eliminated from playoff contention. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.